CPAM Yvelines is changing

Written by Sarah Spitz, on 03 July 2019

In September 2011, Patrick Negaret took over as the head of the CPAM des Yvelines. With nearly 30 different centers, a highly hierarchical system, and modest performance, he believed there were things to change. Drawing from his experience and confidence in human nature, he formulated a radical and ambitious transformation project: Patrick wanted to "liberate energies."

So, where do you start?

Well, you start at the beginning. Patrick initially identified five levers around which the transformation revolves:

  1. Giving meaning
  2. Building trust
  3. Granting autonomy
  4. Cultivating recognition
  5. Fostering a sense of belonging

But be careful: from this point on, there are no more grand words and structuring axes. Once these five levers were determined, everything else involved materializing them through new work habits, training programs, and new tools. In short, a whole host of very concrete measures to avoid the pitfalls of large strategic conversations that can remain vague for a long time and generate tensions or sterile debates about the transformation.

Before delving into the details of the major steps in this ambitious journey, let's take a closer look at the extensive acculturation project launched in 2012, which constitutes the backbone of this transformation project.

Acculturation of Employees to Transformation Levers

  1. Expert interventions were organized within CPAM on key topics such as telecommuting, Generation Y, neuromanagement, etc. Employees were also encouraged to attend external events and conferences, such as those of MOM 21. Learning expeditions were organized, both within other CPAMs undergoing transformation and in companies of different sizes and sectors, to allow employees to experience different environments.

  2. A facilitation training program was offered to managers and employees, aiming to move away from excessive meetings, a common issue in French organizations. About thirty people were trained in 18 months through a program consisting of two 3-day modules. Now, these facilitators are being trained to instruct other employees and managers, with 10 of them becoming trainers. In 2017, the focus shifted to changing the posture of front-line managers. The module was so successful that in 2018, it was offered to strategic managers.

  3. For some, the transformation was undoubtedly more of a personal challenge than a professional one. It wasn't easy for an employee accustomed to receiving orders and never expressing their opinion to dare to speak up and become an actor in this transformation. When some employees wanted to organize theater workshops during lunch breaks, Patrick immediately gave the green light, quickly seeing the benefits everyone could derive from it.

Oh yes, yes: I'm determined! - Patrick Negaret


Today, acculturation is still very present: if you walk through the corridors of CPAM, you'll see stacks of books by Frédéric Laloux, Isaac Getz, and Alexandre Gérard scattered everywhere!

Reduction of Hierarchical Layers

To solidify these changes, the organizational chart was revised, reducing the hierarchical layers from 6 to 4 within two years and without conflicts.

This process was gradual and case by case, far from the witch hunt management style that frightens many critics of any movement aiming to liberate companies. There was no intention to lead a revolution that would suddenly strip some managers of their status, leaving them probably disappointed with the organization for a long time. No, nothing like that happened: it was done gradually through retirements that were not replaced. With each vacancy or retirement, on a case-by-case basis, statuses were reassessed. No one lost their managerial position.

Gradual Implementation of New Practices

On the HR side, adapting to the changes required a fairly profound change in posture, from being an expert and administrative figure to being a supporter and facilitator. Several initiatives were triggered over the years. The onboarding process was redesigned to involve and empower the management more. 360° evaluations were also introduced for willing managers (about twenty by the end of 2018), allowing them to be assessed by their subordinates, peers, and N+1.

Recruitment was also reshaped. The first obstacle to performance was lifted when the recruitment of temporary employees (CDD), previously managed by HR but deemed too slow, was left entirely to managers who wanted it (once again, everything is based on voluntarism!). In November 2018, 19 CDDs were recruited by peers in 5 different services. Then, the recruitment of temporary employees by peers was generalized. Before, HR and the manager made the decision to hire a candidate. But that was before. Now, HR, the manager, and a chosen peer participate in the decision-making process.

The implementation of new practices led to a profound cultural change. The introduction of the "gift of days off," allowing a collaborator who needs to be absent beyond their regular vacation days to benefit from donated days off from colleagues, is a beautiful example of spontaneous solidarity within which no management intervenes, except to contribute their own days. In 2015, the parking area reserved for the management was abolished, and the executive team's coffee area was made available to all employees.

For managers, a Managers' Club was created in 2016. Members (volunteers) meet four times a year to discuss innovative topics (identified and prepared in advance).

The second step was the implementation of adapted Lean management, which I will tell you about in the next article!